1389Coming to New Zealand has been a wonderful culinary experience, amongst other things.  Meat pies!  Kumara!  Pickle!  Steak and egg burgers!  (Only one of the above exclamation marks is sarcastic.)  Most of these so-called discoveries are common to Commonwealth countries, I presume, but living in Canada many of the British influences have been submerged by our southern neighbour.  So no flaky pastry meat pies.  No pickle.  No egg burgers.

One thing we must have in Canada but which I’d never seen before coming to NZ is the savoury muffin.  It’s exactly like a normal blueberry or chocolate muffin, but instead of sweet, it’s savoury.  (Duh.)  And it’s not a savoury scone, because it’s, well, a muffin.  But ohhhhh, the things you can put in it.  Broccoli and blue cheese.  Capsicum and feta and corn.  Avocado and bacon.  Mmmm.  If you make the giant variety, it’s good enough for a lunch.  And somehow, it just makes me feel more comfortable than a sweet muffin.

One of the muffin gurus in New Zealand is 80s TV Cooking Host and practical cooking expert Alison Holst.  Her recipe for the Champion Cheese Muffins, which can be mini-, normal-, or giant-sized, is pretty much fool-proof, and then you can mess with it and add other things.  Enjoy.

Alison Holst’s Champion Cheese Muffins

Put 2 cups (200g) grated tasty cheese*1 1/2 cups self-raising flour**, 1/2 tsp salt1 Tbsp sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper into a large bowl. Mix lightly with your fingers to combine.

In a small container beat 1 egg and 1 cup milk until evenly combined. Pour all the liquid onto the dry ingredients, then fold the two mixtures together, taking care not to overmix.

Spoon the mixture into 12 medium muffin pans, which have been buttered or sprayed with non-stick spray.

Optional toppings: Sprinkle with a little extra cheese and paprika or chilli powder.

Bake at 210 degrees celcius for about 12 minutes, until the muffins spring back when pressed in the middle and are golden brown.

*Tasty cheese = cheddar cheese.

**If you don’t have self-raising flour, you can just use ordinary flour and 1 1/2 tsp baking powder.

– Jean AAR